Just what is the WARMEST parka?

12:25 p.m. on August 22, 2007 (EDT)

Hi. This is the first time I have
ever posted here so I hope this is
in the right place.

I have been looking on the net
for the WARMEST parka made but I am just
getting confused. There are so many materials
and way to put the parka together I don't know
what to think.

I have been looking at coats like
The North Face: Men's Himalayan Parka.
Feathered Friends - Rock & Ice Parka
N-3B Extreme Cold Weather Parka
and other coats of the like.

I get cold so easily and
nothing I have ever owned seems to
ever keep me warm enough. Thats why I am
looking to extreme cold weather gear.

I now have Outdoor Research Alti Mitts,
Baffin Men's Steel Toe Driller Insulated
Boots and I wish to layer what ever parka I
get with my North Face Denali 300 Weight Fleece
Jacket (it was the warmest I could find) and
heavy weight long underwear.

I just need extram warmth and durabilaty.

4:19 p.m. on August 22, 2007 (EDT)
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I don't know what kind of weather you intend to be in, but I have a TNF Baltoro, which is an earlier version of the Himalayan (not to be confused with their newer Baltoro parka). Mine is Gore-Tex and 700 fill, big filled hood and is very warm. I've never been in extremely cold weather or worn other big parkas, so can't really comment on it under extreme conditions, but for around +10F, I can wear it and not much else under it and be toasty warm. I'd bet it's good to way below zero. The FF parka looks pretty similar-maybe even better. I got mine on eBay for half price, so that's why I bought it instead of a different brand.

7:57 p.m. on August 22, 2007 (EDT)
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I bought a very heavy down-filled parka from Cabela's several years ago. It has a detachable down-filled hood and is the warmest garment I have ever owned, by far. In fact, that's the problem: even in sub-zero temperatures, I cannot wear it during any kind of physical activity: I quickly overheat. It's very nice for sitting still in the snow, but it's too big for a backpack and it's pretty heavy. Thus, I don't wear it often. It's usually reserved for visitors from the desert southwest who come to Michigan for a winter visit.

However, it's very durable and will probably outlast me. Maybe I'll take up ice fishing--it would be great for that (assuming no shanty).

I guess the lesson here is that it's not the just the weather you need to consider, but also the type of activity in which you'll be engaged.

9:58 p.m. on August 22, 2007 (EDT)
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Tom is right that it is hard to know how to respond when you don't say what the conditions you are using the gear in will be - northern Alaska or Yukon in midwinter, Cascades in early spring, top of Mt Washington in January, Antarctica, or Houston in July (just kidding on the last one). I will note that you mention steel-toed boots. Boots with steel toes and steel shanks drain heat from your feet very rapidly, even when heavily insulated with liners. Yes they are necessary for certain industrial operations, but that goes way beyond the bounds of this website, which is for backpackers, climbers, backcountry skiers, and other recreational users - woodsy folk, in other words.

So fill us in on where and when and what your usage will be. I might make the wild guess from the "Driller" boots and durability request that you have an industrial application in mind (oil drilling on the North Slope maybe, or driving one of the Ice Road Trucker rigs?). If so, the mountaineering parkas you mention do not have a durable enough outer shell. Even rexim's Cabela parka is no made for that application. There are a couple of companies that do make gear for those applications, but hardly anyone on this site has experience with the companies or their products (we're all wimpy mountaineers and polar explorers, limited to trampling through thickets of alders and wrestling grizzlies, not macho stuff like driving trucks on frozen lakes and wrestling oil drilling rigs).

Ok, to get semi-serious, you are on the right track thinking about layering - base layer of expedition weight synthetic long johns (Patagonia's are really warm, if a bit pricey), a mid layer of 300-wt fleece (the mid "layer" can be 2 or 3 layers of fleece if necessary), an outer insulating layer (an expedition down parka and down pants, or all-in-one down suit - there are some S&R suits that actually are quite rugged), and an outer wind/wet shell (top and bottom, though if it is really cold, there will be no "wet", you only need a windproof shell). Head covering is vital (well over half your body heat is lost through your head). Depending on your usage, "pack" boots like Sorels will work very well (outer leather shell with rubberized foot area with a thick felt liner, liner socks to wick out the moisture, thick wool socks, like Smartwool expedition socks), mittens (your OR's are ok - mittens are much warmer than gloves).

As rexim says, if you are exercising at all, you will be sweating in this much clothing at -40. Take a look at my Antarctica report on the News part of this website (scroll down 4 or 5 screens). A lot of those photos were taken at -30 to -40, many with 30-50 knot winds. We had the parkas (like my Marmot 8000 meter jacket) and pants (like my Feathered Friends) pretty much only when in camp not doing much activity.

2:39 p.m. on August 23, 2007 (EDT)
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Rexim and Bill make a good point I forgot to mention. I only wear my big parka when I'm sitting around or at night when I'm piddling around camp. I snowshoed or skiied in to camp at Yosemite and during the day, a fleece jacket for that might even be too warm. I too get cold easily, so that's why the big parka for me for night. I have a pair of insulated pants too - not down, some kind of synthetic and the combo of those two is really warm for the weather I'm in.

Don't forget, a hat is a big help too. Even with the down hood, a fleece beanie is nice instead most of the time unless I suppose it gets windy, which I haven't really experienced yet.

3:22 p.m. on August 23, 2007 (EDT)
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A guy I know swears by his LL Bean Arctic Expedition parka - I believe he bought it to go hunt polar bears or some such nonsense. I looked at their website - they claim the comfort range is 5F to -50F -


10:44 a.m. on September 2, 2007 (EDT)

Thank you.
Your all right about being need spasific.

Lets see....

Im a 5 foot 9, 145 pound female.
So I am fairly thin and I have poor curclashion
apaerently becase 65 is chilly to me, 30 is bitter
and the teens feels like hell frose over to me.

Further I live in the windy city of Chicago near the
lake and ride a motorcycle even in the dea of winter.
I... er... can't aford a car.

With the tempacher droping to 5 dergres or lower
on some days and a 60mph or more wind on the bike
the wind child makes 5 more like -26 or less

I ended up with mild hypothemy twice even when waering
two pairs of socks,
boots with thensolate,
two pairs of blue jeans,
two pairs of tights,
2 tops,
a swetter,
a wind breaker,
a coat ( I don't know what it was lied with),
an insolated lether jackit,
a hand me down gose down coat,
glove liners,
and lined muffs that go over the hands and the bikes bars bars.
Oh and my bike has a wind screan to.

In preperashion for this next winter I have started to
put together the warmest gear I can find. I can only asume that
if I am piling that much stiff on and I am still frezzing then what I
am piling on is not cuting it.

I had gotten the Baffin oil riger boots when I was surching for something
wind proff, watter proff and extramly warm and found that they were rated
down to -100C or -148F
Personaly I think that they meat there clame.

I am detumened that I will not go though another winter again
geting mild hypothermea.

1:14 p.m. on September 2, 2007 (EDT)
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This is a backpacking website, so I don't know how many people here have any experience on motorcycles, expecially in the winter. I used to ride in winter in Ohio wearing jeans, a wool sweater and an army field jacket, plus gloves and boots and that was good enough for me for a couple of hours. I was usually pretty cold when I got back.

I suggest spending some time online looking for cold weather motorcycle clothes as your search term and see what shows up.

Also, you could look at snowmobile suits-I've just seen them in pictures, but they look like insulated jumpsuits. Look on eBay; I'd bet you can find deals on them and other cold weather gear there.

7:21 a.m. on September 4, 2007 (EDT)
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I used to ride year around as well, for the same reason (finances).

Try an electric vest and chaps under your windproof layers - they tie into the electrical system of your bike and add warmth, rather than just trying to keep the cold out. At the very least treat yourself to a pair of heated grips -

I assume that you're wearing a full face helmet - there's this gizmo called a polar collar - seals between the helmet and your jacket - they're great but they can lead to fogging your faceshield - their used to be a clear pastic material you could laminate to the inside of the faceshields that did a fair job of keeping them clear -

Snowmobile shops typically carry this stuff or you might try mail order - Dennis Kirk used to carry the gear in their catalog - Aerostitch did as well - however - if you're on a tight budget Aerostitch may NOT be your favorite place to shop. A one piece suit - even if it's just a rain suit that you wear over everything else - will work great at keeping the drafts at bay - by the way.

2:24 p.m. on September 4, 2007 (EDT)
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Ditto what Tom D and Fred said above, I also used to ride motorcycles extensively, sometimes in cold weather. There are a couple of factors you left out in your remarks, the size and type of your ride? The distance you're travelling? Your age and level of fitness? Having worked for Motorcycle Consumer News I can tell you that all of the above will factor in to what you need to ride safely and be comfortable getting to work.

Try a pair of surgical gloves under a pair of insulated gloves with heated grips sometime....Works in the coldest temps. Above all, you must be able to safely operate your ride with all your gear on or it'll be for naught.

2:51 a.m. on September 5, 2007 (EDT)

Your legs might be the culprit. Your legs might not feel cold, but if they are not well protected, it can make the rest of your body cold. Two pairs of jeans and tights might not be cutting it (wind might be going through). I'd try an inexpensive shell pant to see if it makes a difference.

10:07 a.m. on September 5, 2007 (EDT)
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Learn about the bodies natural radiators to control your body temps. Head, neck, wrists, kidneys/lower back, shins & feet (maybe even armpits while on the bike). Focus on these areas exposure/protection and the rest will follow.

On the bike I think you need leathers (thick leathers, not the cheap thin-but-fashionable loosely fitted ones) or something designed for motorcycles with fall/skid/slide protection in mind as opposed to outdoor gear that looks nice & stylish but offers no pro in the fall/skid/slide area.

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